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By Denise Findlay
THE SPIRIT OF 2014! Who can forget that summer of hope, alive with the possibility of a new nation being born? The world waited to welcome us, and when we went to the polls on the 18 September we held Scotland’s future in our hands.
If only we had seen that future; Boris Johnston in 10 Downing Street, our European citizenship gone, our parliament’s powers removed. We could have chosen a different and better path.
It’s been more than six weary years as we have struggled, becoming disillusioned, hope dying with every postponement, with every dull ‘just one more mandate’ and every election campaign which features everything but independence. The politicians exhorting us not to scare the ‘soft Nos.’ Although ‘soft Nos’ will probably not vote Yes and we have a large working class independence vote; talk to them, enthuse them, they are our route to independence.
We could have chosen a different and better path.
The ‘party of independence’ has become far too comfortable with the status quo. We have a shadow Secretary of State for Wales and for Northern Ireland, an independence party indulging in colonial overseers’ posts. There are independence MPs boasting of their decades in Westminster clearly proud of their decades of failure. Within the party there has been vicious infighting and othering of anyone who doesn’t toe the party line. And divisive policies that no one wants but a cabal around the leader — anything but independence.
And we are giving our opponents their best lines; ‘section 30 gold standard;’ ‘illegal referendum,’ ‘gaming the system;’ ‘only an SNP majority.’ We don’t really have a strategy for independence beyond, in a few years begging Boris Johnston for a section 30, which he will certainly refuse.
On Friday 26 March 2021 the Alba Party was born. Led by Alex Salmond, the man who brought us so close in 2014. The purpose of the Alba Party is independence for Scotland, and its first goal is to secure an independence ‘supermajority’ in the upcoming Scottish parliament elections.
Alba will not compete with the SNP for the constituency vote. Alba will only stand for the regional list MSPs.
It should be obvious that we must use every avenue at our disposal to win independence. One such avenue is the Additional Member System (AMS) used to elect MSPs to the Scottish parliament. There are two ballot papers. The first is to elect a constituency MSP. There are seventy-three constituencies in Scotland. This is a first past the post vote and the SNP are predicted to win nearly all of these constituencies.
An SNP regional list vote is to all intents a wasted vote. This is due to the SNP vote being divided in most regions by ten.
The second ballot paper is to elect regional list MSPs on this ballot and the vote is for the party. There are eight regions electing seven MSPs each.
The constituency MSPs are elected first and once all constituencies are decided the regional list MSPs are elected. Any party which wins constituencies is handicapped in the regional list count.
An SNP vote on the regional list ballot — on current polling — is very unlikely to return any SNP MSPs, as was the case in six out of eight regions in 2016. An SNP regional list vote is to all intents a wasted vote. This is due to the SNP vote being divided in most regions by ten.
So, an SNP vote will be worth only a tenth of an Alba vote. It would take 100,000 SNP votes to match 10,000 Alba votes.
The regional list is where the unionists get most of their MSPs and this is where Alba will step in and win these seats from the unionists. The full-strength Alba votes on the list will replace unionist MSPs with pro-independence MSPs and provide an independence supermajority in the Scottish parliament. A supermajority is eighty-six pro-independence MSPs — a two thirds majority.
A supermajority means that an independence plebiscite can be called at any time by the Scottish parliament. A supermajority is important internationally if the Scottish parliament decided to declare independence. A supermajority puts the cards in the hands of the Scottish parliament to face down the oncoming Westminster onslaught on our parliament’s powers.
There were two other pro-independence parties intending to compete on the regional list; Action for Independence and the Independence for Scotland Party. They had both been working for over a year and had announced candidates for the election. Both parties stood down so that the independence movement could unite behind Alba. The members of these parties made huge personal sacrifices and put country before party — and this must not be in vain.
The next parliament has a five-year term. If we chose wisely, Scotland is likely to be independent within those five years. Miss this chance and Scotland will be consigned to the shallows; a union jack bedecked ‘North Britain’ run by Tories for generations to come.
So, let us unite for independence!
Remember the hope of 2014; the vibrancy and diversity of the movement, the comradeship, the women singing ‘Flower of Scotland’ as they pushed their bairns in buggies to the polls. We let them down then, but now we can seize this opportunity.
Vote SNP for your constituency MSP and vote Alba for your regional list MSPs. And put Scotland’s future back in Scotland’s hands.
2014 Scottish Independence Referendum | George Square